Intelligent Design Is the Science of Information

Today we found a gloriously silly post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog. The thing is titled Is Information a Naturally Occurring Phenomenon?

It was written by Klinghoffer. He’s a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. He’s really flinging the poo today! Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The question on which the evolution debate turns is whether biological information is a naturally occurring phenomenon, like lightning or salt crystals, or whether, like books or hieroglyphic inscriptions, it requires an author. But what is information?

That’s a good question. We answered it six years ago in Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information, where we said:

It’s something like pixie dust. It’s in your DNA. Without information, DNA is just … well, it’s a big molecule. But when the ghostly goodie of information is added — Shazam! Yes, it’s rather like vitalism, but the Discoveroids don’t want you to notice that.

Okay, you know what we’re dealing with. Klinghoffer then tells us all about “information” by quoting Eric Holloway, about whom we’ve blogged once or twice before, most recently a month ago when we wrote The Discoveroids’ Design Detector Is Back! Today Klinghoffer quotes Holloway on the subject of information:

The answer is staring us right in the face. [Really?] Let’s look at the word “information” and break it into pieces: in-form-ation. The word is itself telling us the nature of information. It is saying that a thing is informative when it has been formed. [Ooooooooooooh! That is brilliant!]

What does it mean to be formed? Let’s think about things that are formed. We can form a lump of clay. We can carve a piece of wood, giving it form. We can cut a piece of paper into a form. In each of these cases, we take raw matter and shape it according to an external pattern. This must be what information means: a raw medium has been shaped by an external pattern.

[…]

So we can now begin to understand what information is. When we have some sort of raw material which is arranged according to an external pattern, we can produce information.

Are you beginning to grasp the magnificence of the concept of “information”? It has to be formed, or shaped. Or — isn’t it obvious? — it needs a designer! There’s not much more that needs to be said, so Klinghoffer ends with this:

Read the rest at Mind Matters. [Link omitted!] When Darwinists seek to mislead with insinuations that the controversy about intelligent design is about the Bible, the reply is simple. No, the controversy is about information.

Did you get that? The Discoveroids aren’t a bunch of bible-banging creationists. Oh no, they’re scientists, and their science is about detecting information — which is created by the intelligent designer — blessed be he! If you don’t understand that, you’re a fool!

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

15 responses to “Intelligent Design Is the Science of Information

  1. Off topic, but the links look okay again! We’re all glad it worked out, whether or not our Curmudgeon had to adjust his modus operandi.

  2. Also off topic.
    The current issue of The Economist has a 4 page essay on hybridization, as a source of speciation; and then on hybridization in the history of Homo sapiens.

  3. hnohf, I found a way to access the old “classic” editor. So the problem is temporarily under control.

  4. Michael Fugate

    If it is the information within DNA that is important, then why do almost all organisms have the same number of genes? If humans were truly exceptional, wouldn’t it show in our DNA?

  5. Derek Freyberg

    In-form-ation.
    Just think of a snowflake, with its fascinating six-fold symmetry. Lots of information there, primarily relating to how water crystallizes – how it’s formed into a solid. No cutting, no carving, and certainly no “we” involved. Of course information, in that sense, is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

  6. Michael Fugate

    “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”
    William A. Dembski
    “Signs of intelligence: A primer on the discernment of intelligent design”. Touchstone Magazine 12 (4), July/August, 1999.

  7. Dave Luckett

    Of course, it comes down to definition. Practically everything comes down to definition. Klunkerflopper has an odd one, which he sets up as a target and then proceeds to shoot at it. But if some other definition is the real target, then he’s not hitting it. In fact, he is only making certain that he never will.

    I think “information” is more closely defined as “that understanding which is conveyed by an arrangememt of elements”. Elements might be arranged naturally – we see this everywhere we look. There is no need to assume an arranger, or rather, we need look no further than natural law and the properties of substances to explain the arrangement. If that definition is applied, the hokum and foofaraw of Kankerkopper’s cant falls away.

    Is there a limit to how complex naturally-occurring arrangements of elements can be? Not intrinsically. An arrangement of elements can become an element itself in a further arrangement, and that in another: a hierarchy of arrangements. What’s to prevent it?

    This is the missing “design filter” that the creationists want most badly to find, and haven’t. There is no such filter. There is only a hierarchy of arrangements that has acquired the property of creating close copies of itself. And that’s what life is.

    Now, all right, you can say that life is within the bounds of possibility, and if so, will happen, but this requires a specific setting of natural law. Very well, that’s the argument for the existence of God from natural law. So God might explain natural law, but also, maybe natural law explains itself at some level the physicists haven’t got to yet, or it’s only one possible set of natural laws that applies in this Universe, and that’s the Universe we live in because it’s the one where living things can be. Or some other explanation we haven’t thought of yet. It adds up to “maybe”, and “maybe” is another way of saying “I don’t know”.

    Oh, here’s my stop. This is where I get off. And not in a good way.

  8. As I understand what they are saying is that there is a property of material, “information”. Information is subject to some laws of nature.
    Now, in general, human activity is subject to laws of nature. We should not expect, in general, that we are exceptions to natural laws. Our actions can be described by Newton’s laws or motion, by Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism, and by the laws of thermodynamics. For example, we cannot construct a perpetual motion machine.
    I say “in general”, for I am willing to accept that there are exceptions. But, there ought to be some argument for the exceptions.
    It looks as if we are supposed to accept that human intervention is such an exception. But I don’t see any argument for its being an exception.
    And then, there are some other exceptions which are granted. Small exceptions, like the formation of snow flakes.
    And then, and this is important, central to their interest in information, the world of life exhibits exceptions.
    But this is a digression.
    So, what is the reason that we should think that the laws of information are not like so much of nature, applicable to human action?

  9. I have to agree once again with Kclunkcerduncker:

    “No, the controversy is about information.”
    Yes. And the IDiot concept of information firmly belongs to the category creacrap.
    But we already know that one of the many scientific fields the IDiots from Seattle reject is mathematics – specifically Kolgomorov and Shannon’s work.

  10. As far as I can see, from the earliest days of the design argument, it has beeen noted that human design is not up to the task of designing life. I quote from Xenophon’s “Memoirs of Socrates” 1.4
    “Which do you think is more admirable – the artist who creates senseless and motionless images, or the one who creates that are alive and intelligent and
    active.”
    And even today, it is pointed out how far humans are from designing a living thing. (We are, of course, able to generate by reproduction.)
    Why anyone would think that the disanalogy suggests that life is designed?

  11. Michael Fugate

    As if things can’t form without intelligence?

  12. Some while ago, little Stevie Meyer, PhD (Prevaricator Hip Deep), wrote an article purporting to explain their hokey, made-up creationist term “complex specified information.” To be explained! In great, scientific detail! Come one, come all, see the forked-tongue Tooter duck and weave.

    Spoiler alert: nothing was revealed.

    Meyer went into great blah blah detail about Shannon Information, a real thing. CSI ain’t Shannon.

    Then Meyer went into great blah blah detail about Kolmogorov information, a real thing. CSI ain’t Kolmogorov.

    The End

    When asked what he called that stinking pile of nonsense Meyer took a bow and replied, “The Aristocrats!”

  13. Michael Fugate

    I wouldn’t dare presume to tell anyone in the US how to vote, but if you care about science and think it is important to base decisions on science, then the last 4 years have been a disaster…
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02800-9
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8

  14. So, how is the weather *not* information by his definition?

  15. Ah, KeithB, thanks for demonstrating that the weather is also Intelligently Designed ……